HERMISTON - The Hermiston School District announced 14 bid proposals to demolish the old hospital building on Orchard Avenue as part of its $69.9 million bond project.

Assistant Superintendent Wade Smith read the proposals Thursday, which came in lower than expected and ranged from $401,227 from Hermiston contractor WAKA Group, Inc. to more than $700,000. The lower bids mean the district will likely pay less than anticipated for the project. Smith attributed that to a weak economy making contractors more hungry for work.

"We are definitely reaping the benefits of the extremely competitive bid climate," Smith said in a released statement.

The district originally estimated the hospital demolition at about $800,000. The project will make room for replacement of West Park Elementary School, scheduled to open with the new Armand Larive Middle School and Sunset Elementary School in fall 2011.

The school board will likely vote to approve a bid next Tuesday. Work at the site could begin as soon as this month, and a public "good-bye" ceremony for the abandoned building is scheduled for Saturday, March 14 at 9 a.m.

- Eric Florip

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